First opal-like crystals discovered in meteorite

Aug 03, 2011

Scientists have found opal-like crystals in the Tagish Lake meteorite, which fell to Earth in Canada in 2000. This is the first extraterrestrial discovery of these unusual crystals, which may have formed in the primordial cloud of dust that produced the sun and planets of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago, according to a report in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Katsuo Tsukamoto and colleagues say that colloidal crystals such as opals, which form as an orderly array of particles, are of great interest to for their potential use in new electronics and optical devices. Surprisingly, the crystals in the are composed of magnetite, which scientists thought could not assemble into such a crystal because magnetic attractions might pack the atoms together too tightly. "We believe that, if synthesized, magnetite colloidal crystals have promising potential as a novel functional material," the article notes.

The formation of colloidal crystals in the meteorite implies that several conditions must have existed when they formed. "First, a certain amount of solution water must have been present in the meteorite to disperse the ," the report explains. "The solution water must have been confined in small voids, in which colloidal crystallization takes place. These conditions, along with evidence from similar meteorites, suggest that the crystals may have formed 4.6 billion years ago."

Explore further: Verifying the future of quantum computing

More information: J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2011, 133 (23), pp 8782–8785 DOI: 10.1021/ja2005708

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

One-of-a-kind meteorite unveiled

Apr 22, 2006

The depths of space are much closer to home following the University of Alberta's acquisition of a meteorite that is the only one of its kind known to exist on Earth! What makes it so rare? The meteorite is 'pristine' – ...

Meteorite yields carbon crystals harder than diamond

Feb 03, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Two new types of ultra-hard carbon crystals have been found by researchers investigating the ureilite class Haverö meteorite that crashed to Earth in Finland in 1971. Ureilite meteorites ...

'Cinderella' - biaxial liquid crystal - is found at last

Feb 12, 2010

Recent research at the DUBBLE beamline has proved the existence of liquid crystals with two main axes. Liquid crystals with a single main axis are already used in LCDs (liquid crystal displays), but crystals ...

Recommended for you

Mapping the optimal route between two quantum states

9 hours ago

As a quantum state collapses from a quantum superposition to a classical state or a different superposition, it will follow a path known as a quantum trajectory. For each start and end state there is an optimal ...

Spin-based electronics: New material successfully tested

13 hours ago

Spintronics is an emerging field of electronics, where devices work by manipulating the spin of electrons rather than the current generated by their motion. This field can offer significant advantages to computer technology. ...

Verifying the future of quantum computing

15 hours ago

Physicists are one step closer to proving the reliability of a quantum computer – a machine which promises to revolutionise the way we trade over the internet and provide new tools to perform powerful simulations.

A transistor-like amplifier for single photons

Jul 29, 2014

Data transmission over long distances usually utilizes optical techniques via glass fibres – this ensures high speed transmission combined with low power dissipation of the signal. For quite some years ...

User comments : 0